I woke late and began my day by scanning an article that said gun shops are seeing a surge in first-time buyers. Head still on my pillow, I continued clicking and scrolling through the latest coronavirus news. Over four thousand confirmed cases across the nation, four hundred of them in New York City. The stock market crashed again and my feeds were filled with chatter about curfews and sheltering in place. I watched drone videos of empty Italian highways. I need to rethink my morning routine.

Hypervigilence and weltschmerz are not sustainable. Presence and compassion demand sanity, which requires some degree of information hygiene. Or at least waiting until I’ve had some coffee, a shower, and a few minutes to remember my name before tuning into the latest pandemic news.

Determined not to spend the day scared in front of a screen, I begin to clean. I clean because I have a book to finish, papers to grade, taxes to file, and my finances are cratering. I clean because it provides a brief illusion of control. I sand some wood and paint some shelves. I fix the leaky shower. I dig into cluttered closets and rethink where to put my record collection.

Riffling through an old box of keepsakes, I come across a note that I wrote to her five years ago: Let’s become dedicated night owls and haunt all-night diners. It’s only been twenty-four hours since the restaurants closed, but sitting in front of a plate of French toast at midnight while talking about anything besides this virus feels like a scene from some lost golden age.

Autechre – VLetrmx21

From Garbage | Warp, 1995 | Boomkat

But if you’re looking for some weltschmerz, this song is the perfect score.